Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C
September 05 2022 – 10:30 AM
Saint Cecilia Catholic Community
Deacon Sharon Kay Talley
Wisdom 9:13-18b | Psalm 90:3-6;12-14;17
Philemon 9-10;12-17 | Luke 14:25-33

+in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, AMEN.

Do you want to be a disciple of Jesus?

If so, Jesus explains in today’s Gospel from Luke what it takes to be a true disciple. There are basically two components involved: the first is learning to make sacrifices and the second is to be committed to our mission; In Romans, Paul explains what sacrifice means to God.  As we learn to worship, we become living sacrifices of God by giving up, seeking what we want from life, and learning how to serve God.  Our goal is to love one another and lift each other up.  We also need to focus on building a foundation by growing our faith and connection with Jesus.

Being in a loving, personal relationship with Jesus is crucial in our lives, and we should value how it helps us to have better relationships with our loved ones.  It is through building our faith that we find peace and happiness.  Jesus states, “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even one’s own life, that person cannot be my disciple.”

Wow!  That is quite a profound statement coming from God, who teaches us to love everyone, isn’t it?

But Jesus is not literally telling us to hate our families in order to be His disciple.  He wants to impress upon us that we must live our lives committed to His ministry and be ready and willing to make sacrifices in order to carry out His mission.  When we do so, we become better people, strengthening our families and all others in our lives.

We must develop an action plan to enable us to fulfill our mission.

The Tale of Tom Poor gives us an example of the consequences of failure to plan.

Tom Poor always vowed never to live up to his namesake.  The seventh son of an iron worker, Tom spent years building his successful steel manufacturing company.  His success allowed him to provide a lifestyle for his wife and two children that no one in the Poor family had ever had.  His company employed one-hundred-thirty-five people, and his two children were taking on more responsibilities at the company as Tom got older.

Just before Tom’s seventieth birthday, he made a startling announcement to his family and company.  A large steel conglomerate had offered him fifteen million dollars for his company, and he verbally accepted the offer.  He assured his employees and children that their jobs were safe based on a handshake agreement he’d made with the buyer.  He assumed that fifteen million dollars was more than enough money to allow him a comfortable lifestyle since his five hundred thousand dollar annual salary and benefits package had provided so much for his family to that point.

Before the deal went through, Tom’s children told him that they had expected to run the company once he retired.  They had been training hard to prepare, and so the sale to an outside party shocked and upset them.

“I built this business into what it is today,” Tom told them.  “I’ve earned the right to make this decision because my decision-making got us here.  Besides, I want to see the grandkids more.”

As the sale date approached, both of Tom’s children quit to start their own venture together in a related business.  When the buyer learned that two key employees were leaving, he told Tom that he would either have to replace them or accept a lower offer.  Tom refused to accept a lower offer, but the employees he promoted to fill his children’s roles were incapable of running the business.

As Tom tried to renegotiate, his employees began leaving the company one by one, citing low morale and a lack of commitment from Tom.

Then, the original buyer pulled the offer.  Though Tom managed to keep some employees from quitting, the exodus caused company production and value to plummet.  His children refused to talk to him or let him see his grandchildren.  His wife—heartbroken by what had happened—took their side.

Tom ended up selling the business at age seventy-five for three million dollars.  After taxes, he took home just over a million dollars.  With his family refusing to talk to him and barely enough to survive on his own after a year of poor health, Tom was forced to re-enter the workforce at the company he had sold just a year earlier.

Despite his promises to himself, Tom Poor ended his life living up to his namesake.

Tom completely disregarded his children’s commitment and desire to run the company.  If Tom had developed a plan which took into consideration his children’s contributions and future goals, this fallout in relationships could have been prevented.  By following Jesus’ example and working out a specific plan for his retirement which focused on his faith and his family, this tale would have had a very different ending.

As disciples of Jesus, we are called to carry on the mission of Jesus in our lives.  Here are some ways we can do that:

–Spreading the Gospel by helping those who are devoid of spirituality; helping the oppressed, the needy, the poor, and the homeless.

–Praying often and allowing the Holy Spirit to help us speak the Word of God.

–Loving our neighbors as ourselves

–Telling others about how Jesus found us and how we responded to His call

–Inviting others to join us in following Jesus

In our first reading today from the Book of Wisdom, the author  gives us a speech by Solomon, which says that he is like all other humans despite his nobility, and as a human, he still needs guidance by God’s wisdom to rule and accomplish what God has intended.

It is easy to see how this reading relates to our Gospel today from Luke.  Human beings have limitations in their knowledge and comprehension; therefore, they must rely on the wisdom sent as a gift from God in order to receive the mystery which brings us fulfillment in our lives.

Our second reading tells of Paul’s sacrifice in allowing Onesimus to be sent back to Philemon and of Philemon’s sacrifice in disregarding all his inhibitions against Onesimus. Onesimus was Philemon’s runaway slave who had become a Christian through Paul’s ministry.  In preparation for Onesimius’ return, Paul sent a letter to Philemon requesting that the slave be treated as a brother.

We all must be ready to make sacrifices in order to maintain relationships.  This relates to our Gospel in that Jesus desires us to make sacrifices in order to be His true disciples.  When He states, “If any man comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, she, he, or they  cannot be my disciple.”  By this, Jesus is teaching us to learn to make sacrifices and to be committed to our missions and callings.

It is quite challenging for people today to make the necessary sacrifices and commitments necessary to become a true disciple of Jesus.  But Jesus invites us all today to follow Him and seek the consolation of God each and every day of our journeys.

It is through our sacrifices and commitments that we are able to become true disciples of Jesus.  And through our relationship with Jesus, we become better husbands, wives, parents, and children.